Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Rest of the Week

A few more pictures from my few days off Work although the last day at work was actually my final day in the office before we move to our new offices, were there is no view out of the window apart from a brick wall and no sky to look at either.  The final picture I took was this. 

 I really enjoyed my last few months there although I hopefully will be able to get out at lunchtimes as there is a bit of greenery only a few yards away which is not viewable from any window.  After work I headed for Big Waters, as it was such a nice night, for an hour and caught glimpse of the first 2 Cygnets next to the hide.

I made several visits to Big Waters during the last few days 
and did manage to increase my year list.  

Lapwing acting as a decoy

A bit of sun and the Butterflies start appearing

Sedge Warblers came out with the Sun and also after hearing a Reed Warbler several times I managed to get a glimpse of one, unfortunately no picture

Then another year tick as we spotted a flyover by a Ringed Plover then seeing it land and finding another.  Yes, there is 2 in the photo

I saw several rainbows last Thursday and Friday after some bloody awful weather which included Hail, Sleet, Rain and in some places a bit of snow.  The hail was particularly bad with Alan J and myself having to shelter several times.  This pic was taken at 9.23 on Thursday.

At last the first batch of Cygnets was brought into the open after a couple of glances 
of them on the nest.  The parents took them for a spin round their territory and fortunately no agressiveness from the other Swans was evident although there are still 2 more sitting on eggs.

On Sunday a Goosander dropped in at about 6.45, landed at the public end, swam up the lake to the scrape then promptly went to sleep for over 3hrs.  Whilst not a year tick, Alan J checked the records and it is only the 4th one ever in May and the last one was in 2000.

There is also about 7-9 Cormorants around most of the time which is about double what is normally there at this time of year and unfortunately they are "hogging" the island which seems to upset the Terns.

The Common Terns are an absolute pleasure to watch especially when they are fishing.


Only seeing 1 Little Grebe most of the time builds up ones hopes of the other sitting
on a nest somewhere in the reeds

Finally, thats enough about Big Waters, I hear you say, so here is a couple of pictures,
 of another place I really like also

Is Manic Back ?????????

Was wandering round Big Waters yesterday
when I spotted this in the bushes

Made me wonder if Manic Meanderings had returned
from the Orkneys a day early

Sunday, 26 May 2013

And This Was Before We Reached Our Destination......

Out yesterday with John A and headed North, this was our first bird of the day (that we stopped to look at) before we arrived at our destination and the first 2 photographs even, I know I have better ones than this but haven't got time to look as whilst the weather is good the blogging must wait.

This one was taken from the car

Here is the 2nd Bird we saw, it was upstream about 50m away but when we walked onto the bridge it actually came closer and landed in a tree.  Once again the settings were not quite right as when it flew down we expected it to land on the bank or on the rocks in the river, Birds they just never do what you want them to do

Then when we got to our destination the day got even better.

Unfortunately, or possible fortunately for some of you, I have to go birding now, so no more typing time, isn't life awful.  

Friday, 24 May 2013

Story at Sedgedunum Warbler's Blog

Too knackered on Wednesday evening to write a blog, Thursday day too busy birding, Thursday evening too busy resting cos I was even more knackered, this morning only had time for this quick note before I heave on my waterproofs and head off into darkest Tyneside/Northumberland.  Too save me time on gathering my thoughts and typing I can refer you to what happened on Wednesday by looking at my 
Birding Buddies Blog (and an excellent post it is) although I have added 5 random pictures which for some reason he didn't

Not A Promising Start Looking at the Sky

Even in the mud and dirt these are great looking birds
(Pity I was sort of focussing on the wrong one 
but my camera does that for some strange reason)

Did I hear you say they weren't many around ?

One of the 4 or 5 we saw (this one was ringed)


Time to go Birding, cant believe its 6.45 and I haven't left the house yet

Monday, 20 May 2013

Big Waters In The Fog

Sunday and once again an early start, arriving at Big Waters at 06:32, and finding Charlie's car already in the Car Park.  5 minutes in the car to finish off my Latte and scan the area, well the 50 or so metres I could see through the fog.  The first thing that caught my eye was a fox being a bit furtive (when are they not) in the field next to the car par.  Managed to get a shot, heavily cropped, sharpened, brightened,contrasted, shadow protection etc etc but the high ISO didn't help either and its still crap (blame the bloody fog)

Headed down the track and this Blackbird was sitting on a post with the biggest mouthful of god knows what stuff and didn't bother to move as I walked past it, mind you if I was carrying that amount in comparison to my size in my mouth (its nearly as big as a Big Mac)I would be stopping every step for a rest.

I stopped in the 1st hide and the pond was absolutely still, no wind for the first time for ages but could have done with some for a change to blow the mist away which was leaving a film of dew on everything, including myself and the camera.  The water level had rose between 9inches and a foot after the heavy rain on Saturday.  A Grey Heron was the first thing to drop in and just stayed on the perch for 20mins before flying off, just as Charlie who had seen it from the first hide had gathered up his gear and came down to get a few atmospheric shots of it in the mist (its always the case).  I managed a couple though.

I have hundreds of shots similar to the above, with various combinations of birds, which is probably my favourite  place to take pics in the North East.  On to the main hide and I was surprised to see that the Coot Nest was still "floating" with running repairs being done for most of the time I was there.

Although one of the pair eventually settled down to "Sit" (Sleep).

The Feeding Station was a bit quiet although a Greater Spotted Woodpecker and a Willow Tit kept me watching for quite a while although the fog/mist was getting a lot thicker and everything you touched seemed to have a thicker film of what seemed like water now instead of dew.

and here is a short video of the above, just click on the orange link below

Press Here For The Woodpecker Video

By now it was time for the walk although we were a couple of people short, The Auditor hadn't turned up, he was probably off somewhere checking that birds were being attributed to the right patch and Manic Meanderings was off "Sunning" himself in the Orkeys (I Think).  Keith and I waited patiently at the designated meeting spot (under the clock, wearing carnations in our buttonholes in order to be recognised) but only AJJ arrived slightly later than normal and informed us that Ian would be slightly late and probably catch up as he had arranged a blind date with a member of the "4th Emergency Service" in the Car Park.  We then set off at an extremely slow pace as the mist just makes one want to saunter along.  The Nest near the A1 seemed to be abandoned but we later found out that the eggs had hatched the previous day two little balls of black fluff had been seen happily following their parents.  We then went to check for Grey Wagtails, AJJ informing us that they had done this every day since last Sunday but to no avail, but guess what, there wasn't any there today either although there was a Common Tern which was sitting on the "Big Water Platform"  warning other approaching Terns of its presence.

There was a new herd of cattle in the West Field next to the track leading up to the Cycle Path which the Jackdaws (Alan informed me that they were Jackdaws so I could attribute birds with their right name (Bitch) after my slight error in my last post) were taking advantage of .  Some of them seemed to be taking patches of hair off the cows although others seemed to be feeding
Any space for a little un on there ?

Ian caught us back up just before we reached the Horse Field and told us that the "4th Emergency Service" had sorted him out very quickly.  We decided to do the short walk in the hope of seeing something different but unfortunately not.  We arrived back at the 1st hide with a total of 10 Common Terns seen, instead of the normal 3-5 that are usually around.  A couple of them also decided to make their friendship a bit more permanent.

Cant understand why the one on the right is getting excited also

Finally, there were quite a lot of Hirundines around with the Swallows favouring this bit of wire for a
 "Tea Break"

Yet again another canny walk round with great banter and the odd bird or two seen and well done to AJJ for adding another 2 Species to the Big Waters List today (Monday).

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Big Waters and Bits From The Week

Friday night I popped up to Big Waters for a couple of hours to wind down after work, also I thought I wouldn't get a chance on Saturday with the Weather Forecast predicting that the heavens would open .  On the island were a couple of Common Terns and a Common Sandpiper. whoops I mean a Dunlin (Should have gone to Specsavers), thanks to Vipers, AJJ and Sedgedunum for pointing out my deliberate mistake in order to check out if anyone was reading my blog and if you believe that.............

As I was sitting watching them when another 2 small waders flew up the North side of the pond so off to the main hide and halfway along the scrape were  2 Common Sandpipers.

I eventually got a couple of shots of them in the same frame 

Also, if you can be bothered, a link to my YouTube account for a short video of the Sandpipers
Two Common Sandpipers at Big Waters
Just click the purple Orange link above

The wind started picking up though and just before I decided to leave the Gadwalls were forced to come a bit closer so I managed to get a few pics of the male.

So after an hour or so I headed home to warm up as the wind was now quite bad and sitting with the North facing windows open you were being blasted straight in the face.  I had intended giving birding a miss on Saturday but getting up at my normal time and sitting for a couple of hours doing some odd chores on the computer I decided to head up to Big Waters for a couple of hours again, just staying in the hides to keep out of the rain.  When I arrived at 7ish the rain was not exactly heavy and wasn't unpleasant to walk in so I thought the BBC might have got it wrong again.  How wrong was I, within 30mins it was absolutely tipping it down and once again opening the North facing windows meant you were soaked within seconds so the views out were limited.  As the saying goes "Even Ducks don't go out in this weather" but they were wrong as there was a female Mallard with the first brood on Big Waters I had seen this year.  This picture was taken at least a couple of hours later, when the rain eased, after I had first seen them as I had just been lifting the window up a couple of inches to peek out at them.

This was what the rain was like from the East facing window at the time.
Poor Little Grebe

I then headed off intending to go and get a Latte then head home but just before I reached the Car Park I bumped into Ian D then a couple of minutes later AJJ joined us so I headed back to hide with them as I didn't fancy spoiling the beloveds "Duvet Day".  By the time we reached the hide the rain had started to come down pretty heavy and when Alan opened the windows his first job was to get some rags to try and dry the water up.  We didn't really see anything new, although we managed (after several recounts) 20 Coots on the pond.  Alan spotted a couple of Terns over the lake and we all got on to them, there turned out to be 6, but Alan had one in his scope and after they eventually headed East Alan got the book out and he reckoned that the one he had been watching was a 1st year Artic Tern.  The rain got even harder but after about 90mins we decided to make a break for it and when we left it actually calmed down but parts of the path were now at least ankle deep.  On the way out I spotted a Willow Tit playing along the boardwalk and passed a Swallow which was perching on a bush where a substantial flash had formed and I could have reached out and touched it as we passed but my camera was in my bag.  I then headed off for a Latte whilst Ian and Alan went for a quick walk round the public end.  I got my Latte then headed home as all I could hear on the radio was this road, this road and that road were now impassable due to the rain.  I walked in the door and Carole stated she was not going out for a meal and wasn't going to cook as it was her day of rest so I got back in the car and headed off to get something different.  A huge Savaloy Bap with all the trimmings and a cup of homemade Broth from the local butchers later and I was content (and dry now).  Carole enjoyed hers also.

I also managed to get out during the week a couple of times so here is a couple of pics.

Early morning on the Derwent

Come on we cant sunbathe here all morning,
one of us has to feed the kids

Thank god she has gone, a few minutes peace 

Well I suppose I better show a bit of effort and take them something

I went down to the Tyne on Thursday morning and was surprised to see
quite an increase of the amount of Kittiwakes

In the Garden at home

Finally, through the office window at the College, not for much longer though as at the end of next week we move into Portokabins Modular Builds for 18 months whilst they build us a new home , purpose built Reception Centre I will be glad when we move into the new building though as it will only be 6 months to retirement.  I have been adding some finely chopped apple, sultanas, raisins and grapes and have had several visits by Thrushes, a flock of Starlings. Jackdaws, Rooks and at least 3 Robins.

Well thats it for now, time to put feet up and watch some of shows I have been recording on TIVO for the last few weeks (am now 58% full) and the smell of something cooking (I can smell chicory and garlic) wafts up the stairs.  I luv Saturday nights, especially as I dont have to worry about work or whether The Toon will hang on in there.

PS, whilst at Big Waters today this Cormorant had a lot of "White Stuff" on its beak, at first I thought it was "Fluff" but it was still there a couple of hours later despite it fishing.  Any Ideas ?

Excuse the pic it was a bit away and hissing down with rain